Friday, January 25, 2008

The Governor Called At 11:59

So I mentioned a few days ago that I had a cow that was down, in the barn. A "down" cow is a cow that won't or can't get up... this one is a weird one, even for me.

One week ago today, I was feeding and I noticed an older cow limping in one front foot, so I pulled up beside her and Uncle Robert pulled up in his truck too. It was bitterly cold that morning and really, all I wanted to do was just get in where it was warm... but....

Robert: What do you think?

Me: I dunno. You notice her limping before today?

Robert: Nope. What now?

Me: (gritting my teeth) Let's take her to the barn.

So off we go, moving the old girl about 1/2 mile across the pasture and down the road to the barn. Now mind you, she's just not that bad, but I'm an old softy and I hate to see anything suffer if I can help it. About 20 minutes and a frozen face later, she's in the barn. Robert runs her down the back pen and back up the alley to the squeeze chute and I catch her.

She's in there and pretty good natured about the whole ordeal so far, I drop the kick panel on my side of the squeeze chute and pick up her foot and can't see a thing in the whole wide world of sports wrong with it. Nothing. It's swollen a little, but no cut, nothing stuck in it, nada. So, because I gotta do something for her, I clean her foot and squirt some Coppertox on it and give her a dose of LA-200... just because.

Now right here is where it goes all weird in Cowguy Land. I open up the headgate on the chute, she starts to step out, stumbles, falls and there she is. That's it. She won't/can't get up.

In all my years, and there's a lotta years, of working with cattle I have never seen anything like this before. Ever. She walks in, mostly healthy and falls out in paralysis. We mess around with her for quite a while and decide... to just let her stay there for awhile.

Day 2 is no different, she seems to enjoy having ground corn and hay and water brought to her. Her appetite is normal. She poops and pees like a cow should. No fever. No cough. No nuthin' that is abnormal other than she can't make her front legs work.

A call to the vet brings a "Huh?" response. That's comforting. The vet then says that something had to happen in the chute that caused swelling on her spinal cord. I've got no clue how that would've happened... but he says just to let her be and maybe if there's no damage other than some swelling somewhere, she'll get up in a day or two.

Let's just move on to today, it's been a week. We walk in the barn with the now usual routine of taking care of her needs and we're both standing there.... thinking the same thing. Sometimes life is a little harsh on the farm, but that's part of it.

I've cried over losing a cow before and probably will again before I'm done being a farmer.

Robert: So.....

Me: Yeah....

Robert: So....

Me: You know it's been a week now.

Robert: Yeah. I don't think she's gonna get up.

Me: Me neither. She's gotta be 'bout 10 years old by the looks of her mouth. I think it's time for her to go on home.

Robert: *nothing*

Me: I'll go to the truck and get my gun...

Folks, what happened next was nothing short of amazing. Before I had even turned to go to the truck..... she stood up.

Yes she did. Just like that.

She faltered around a bit and fell back down, but she stood up on her own and held it there for about 5 seconds.

I looked at Robert and he looked at me. We looked at the cow, we looked at each other. I said "I think that's the governor on the phone."

We'll see how it goes...


Anonymous said...

Smart cow...why not see how long the humans will wait on you hand and...uh.....foot.


Kim said...

Not to mention the fact that it apparently understands English! Or reads minds!

Jerry said...

Great story, Jace! Glad she decided against walking the plank.